Celebrating the suffragettes with the next generation of East Londoners

02.11.23 2 min read by Iona MacRury

London is full of great stories of characters and places that have a place in history and helped shape our world as it is today.

With so much happening in one place there is a danger of extraordinary characters being overlooked. Sylvia Pankhurst, the feminist and political activist, who was pivotal in the women’s rights movement in the early 20th century is, a case in point.

Bow was the headquarters of the East London Federation of the Suffragettes. Led by Sylvia Pankhurst, it was an offshoot of the ‘Women’s Social and Political Union’. Throughout her time, Sylvia opened a nursery, a cost-price restaurant and a cooperative factory. All with a view to try and improve the conditions of the women of the East End.

In 1913, Pankhurst would make her first public speech at a demonstration, at what is now Stroudley Walk.

Physically it is completely unrecognisable now from the time of the East London Federation of Suffragettes, however the beliefs and what the suffragettes stood for are still ever present in the area.

Fast forward 110 years and working in partnership with Poplar HARCA, we are delivering 274 homes to Bromley-by-Bow as part of a new, vibrant neighbourhood at Stroudley Walk.

The year 5 & 6's of St Agnes Primary School

Inspired by the area’s significance to women’s rights, we’ve been engaging with local charity Bow Arts Trust to pay homage to the area’s rich history. An arts programme and two-day co-design workshop has been delivered at St Agnes Primary School, a neighbouring school.

Artist Will Redgrove worked alongside our Senior Development Manager, Isabelle Asante, and Laura Lloyd of St Agnes Primary School, to deliver the co-design workshop to year’s 5 and 6.

It focussed on the theme of empowerment and standing up for what you believe in. The children undertook a site visit to the passage, describing how it made them feel in its current state. Back in the classroom they made placards on topics they were passionate about and worked to incorporate some of these themes into some early drafts of the mural.

Senior Development Director of Muse, Isabelle Asante, presenting with artist Will Redgrove

“I learnt to see the actual colours of the world and the patterns of everything” said one child during the workshop. Laura Lloyd, Learning Project Manager at Bow Arts Trust, continued: “It was great to see the children so engaged in learning about Bow’s local history – they were excited to be involved in the design process and enjoyed working together to help create a permanent artwork for their community.”

The purpose of the workshop was to encourage the children to provide ideas and inspiration for a mural which is to be installed on St Boltoph passage, an area that is adjacent to the school entrance and connects to the proposed Stroudley Walk.

St Agnes Primary School children with their placard creations

Isabelle Asante said:

We had a fantastic couple of days at St Agnes’ Primary School working with the incredible Bow Arts Trust to understand the children's aspirations for St Boltoph Passage and hear about what’s important to them.”

In the meantime, the children’s drawings of how they view their neighbourhood from the workshop are being displayed on the hoardings which surrounds the Stroudley Walk construction site.

Working with Poplar HARCA, we’ll continue to engage the local community throughout the construction of Stroudley Walk, to ensure it is an inclusive, sustainable development which delivers for the future generations of Bromley-by-Bow, whilst also honouring the area’s rich past.

The children of St Agnes Primary School viewing their artwork on the Stroudley Walk hoarding

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